Nature photography, political rants, and Martyman laughs from the ten-time award-winning author of "Cool Creatures, Hot Planet," "Endangered Edens," and the "Time Is Irreverent" series.

Lions in grass


Marty’s photo of the day #1766: It’s “CC, HP: ESC Month,” featuring photos and excerpts from my first book, Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the Seven Continents. Today’s photo is from Zimbabwe, and the below excerpt from my book tells the story of the shot:

“Lions!” announced Humphrey in a hushed shout.

Everyone wanted to see lions. If we could have bellowed out a loud cheer without alarming them, we would have. Instead, we pulled ashore with quiet whispers of excitement.

The channel arced like the letter C, with the lions on a small hill at the top of the letter and us on the far bank at the bottom of the letter. In the middle of the C was a sixty-foot-wide field of scrubby vegetation. Brian had warned us that lions usually take off as soon as they see people, so we were surprised when they ignored us.

The reason for our good fortune was that they were stalking a Cape buffalo. We counted seven lions in the hunting party (all females), and as the drama unfolded, the buffalo quickly gained the advantage. First, the buffalo crossed a side channel. When the lionesses followed, they had to make a hasty retreat to avoid a crocodile. Moments later, a second buffalo stepped into view to join the first one. Eventually some of the lions crossed the channel, but for the time being they were unwilling to move in for the kill.

After watching the standoff for a while, we returned to our canoes. The course of the river took us directly past the animals. Six of the lions disappeared from sight before we drifted by. The youngest, however, didn’t have the hiding skills of the others and “hid” by crouching behind a tiny clump of grass. I’m not sure if she truly believed we couldn’t see her, but her pose was perfect for some humorous pictures.

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